- Anthony Knockaert, Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray on target
- Albion cut the gap on league leaders Newcastle United to just goal difference
- The Seagulls move nine points clear of third-place Huddersfield Town
- Brighton keep their 19th clean sheet in the league this season
Brighton & Hove Albion seized the advantage of playing first in this weekend’s Sky Bet Championship programme, after cruising to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Derby County in a Friday night clash at the Amex.
A goal each from Anthony Knockaert, Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray ensured the Seagulls breezed past a lacklustre Rams side to move nine points clear of third-place Huddersfield Town.
Chris Hughton made one change to the side that beat Rotherham United on Tuesday, as Murray replaced Tomer Hemed.
Albion worked their first opening inside four minutes, as Knockaert picked out Jiri Skalak in space and the Czech winger cut inside the Derby defence and saw his shot go just past the far post.
But Knockaert did break the deadlock just a minute later when he latched onto Bruno’s pass eluded Julien de Sart with some brilliant skill and fired an unstoppable low strike beyond Scott Carson.
Derby reminded Albion of their own threat going forward when Cyrus Christie drifted in a cross towards former Seagulls loanee Darren Bent, but his downward header went over the crossbar.
Hughton’s men continued their lively start when Beram Kayal and Baldock linked up well to create a chance for Murray, but Carson was out quickly to thwart the striker.
Skalak then floated in a corner towards Murray, who couldn’t quite divert his header on target at the near post.
Albion’s movement continued to cause the Rams defence problems as Murray and Knockaert set Baldock through on goal, but his angled attempt went over.
Brighton ramped up the pressure on the Derby goal with further chances for Murray and Baldock, before Carson had to react quickly to push over Skalak’s goalbound corner.
The hosts continued to dominate proceedings; Kayal released Baldock through on goal again but Carson denied Albion’s number nine, while Murray’s header went agonisingly over from Skalak’s incisive cross.
The second goal finally arrived courtesy of Baldock with 43 minutes on the clock, as he latched onto a deflected ball from Murray before coolly slotting home.
Albion took little time after the re-start to reassert their dominance. David Stockdale sent a long ball forward, which was flicked on by Baldock into the path of Knockaert, who forced Carson into a one-handed save from distance.
Despite Brighton’s superiority, Derby came close from another Christie cross but Matej Vydra’s header skimmed off the frame of the goal.
The Seagulls were dealt an injury blow midway through the second half when Bruno was forced off with what looked like a groin injury and he was replaced by Fikayo Tomori.
The Chelsea loanee set up Albion’s next chance with a flick on towards Murray, who controlled the ball inside the box but saw his shot blocked.
Albion then made the game safe when Knockaert found Murray inside the box, whose shot ricocheted off Carson, then the striker's own shin, before hitting the back of the net with 78 minutes played.
Baldock almost got his second and Albion’s fourth in stoppage time with a strike that deflected inches wide, but the game ended 3-0.
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